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July 1, 2002

The Daily Prospectus

Joe and Bob Make People Mad

by Joe Sheehan

I was going to write up my weekend at the SABR conference, but with the new way--and day--of picking All-Star teams, I'll take a look at the honorees and should-have-been honorees today, and talk about Boston tomorrow.

Two weeks ago, I made my predictions of what the AL All-Star team would look like. I made at least three errors, and there's a chance that Johnny Damon won't make the team, either. My mistakes fall neatly into three categories:

I pretty strongly disagree with the selection of Fick instead of Weaver, although I guess Weaver's 6-8 record made it easy for Torre to disregard him. With outfielders like Fick and Randy Winn on the team, the notion of Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez having to make it in through the fan vote is a little silly.

I don't know what to think of the selection of Rivera. He's thrown so few innings this year (28 2/3), and has a fairly low total of 19 saves. On the other hand, Mussina has an ERA more than three runs higher than Rivera's (albeit with better peripherals than his 4.72 suggests). I'm surprised that Torre ignored Mussina's 11-3 record, to be honest, but I can't complain too much about the call. J.C. Romero deserved the slot over both of them.

The last one is the shocker. I had a very hard time getting my hands around the idea that Torre would take four shortstops, and never considered that he would take five. A plurality of responses to my ESPN.com article pointed out my omission of Miguel Tejada, garnished with the usual references to East Coast bias. I know the guy can play; I just think he's the fifth-best shortstop in the league, and there was no precedent for five shortstops on an All-Star team.

Was it the right decision? I doubt it. Tejada has good counting stats, but his .299/.340/.489 line doesn't scream "All-Star!" and it's not like he doesn't rank fifth in the group in EqA and RARP. Looking at it another way, he's just seven runs better than Ray Durham, probably the best-qualified backup second baseman. Damon, Eric Chavez, John Olerud, Magglio Ordonez and Tim Salmon all have much better All-Star arguments, and that's just among the position players.

So does Eric Hinske, who is probably the best player who isn't on the team or the "fan ballot" for the last roster spot (an idea that, by the way, I think is great). Darin Erstad is, though:

                AB   AVG   OBP   SLG   EqA   RARP   VORP*
The Rookie     259  .293  .385  .544  .321   28.6   24.6
The Punter     307  .313  .345  .427  .283   15.3   13.5
*through 6/26

Hinske has made 16 errors, which leads all MLB players, and is about the only reason you could possibly leave him off of the team. This was a terrible decision by Torre, ignoring the most exciting rookie in the AL and a player who leads his position in OPS. Darin Erstad is a moderately positive contributor coming off a terrible season. At what point is hitting for a decent average and being "scrappy" no longer enough to be a star, anyway?

Because I didn't write an overlong article on the NL All-Stars, I don't have as much to say about them. Bob Brenly's decision to carry just five starting pitchers--two of them his own--is peculiar, to say the least. Worse is the selection of Luis Gonzalez, who goes to Milwaukee while Brian Giles, among others, sweats out the fan vote.

                AB   AVG   OBP   SLG   EqA   RARP   VORP*
Luis Gonzalez  288  .288  .402  .515  .311   24.2   26.6
Brian Giles    259  .305  .425  .606  .340   34.0   35.9
Larry Walker   251  .343  .425  .625  .329   24.8   28.3
Andruw Jones   302  .272  .375  .517  .306   26.3   30.0
Albert Pujols  286  .283  .380  .531  .309   24.5   23.7
Ryan Klesko    256  .301  .399  .520  .322   24.1   25.3
*through 6/26

That still leaves out Bobby Abreu, Jim Edmonds, and Cliff Floyd, all of whom have better qualifications than Gonzalez. This is really comparable to Joe Torre's selection of Mike Stanton last year.

As long as we're accusing Brenly of shameless homerism...

                AB   AVG   OBP   SLG   EqA   RARP   VORP*
Paul LoDuca    277  .318  .372  .444  .297   22.4   18.8
Damian Miller  211  .275  .352  .488   281   14.7   18.2
*through 6/26

LoDuca has played more and played better than Miller has.

I have no explanation for Benito Santiago.

The NL doesn't have the AL's problem of trying to find a qualified Devil Ray or Tiger; the worst teams have some very good players. In fact, the dreadful Brewers have two All-Stars in Jose Hernandez and Richie Sexson.

Remember, even the most controversial All-Star selection stories have a shelf life of hours. These are the roster for an exhibition game, one whose meaning has been diluted by interleague play. In two weeks, we won't remember who got hosed, or who snuck in on the "every team needs a rep" rule, or who pitched how many innings. These stories just don't last the way MVP debates or which-team-was-better arguments do.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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